Violent conflicts: UN chief says ‘prevention better than cure’

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for increasing investments in preventative measures that address the problem of root causes of violence before it erupts into conflicts.

Guterres spoke at a World Bank-European Union panel discussion in Washington, D.C., where the Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are holding their annual Spring Meetings, according to a statement issued by his Spokesman, Mr Stephane Dujarric.

The UN chief explained that addressing what he termed the “fragility” of societies, was key to preventing conflicts.

He stressed that a key trigger common to nearly all conflicts is the element of fragility of States, of institutions, or of societies.

Guterres added that it was essential to find ways to divert the massive use of resources in managing crises to what was necessary to do to prevent them and to build the capacity of societies to solve their own problems.

“This means strengthening States, strengthening institutions, strengthening civil societies and combining the peace and security approach with the inclusive and sustainable development approach and with human rights,” Guterres said.

The UN scribe noted that the traditional forms of development aid were not enough and said that new approaches that created the conditions for investments in building resilience of communities and addressing fragility were needed.

He praised the World Bank for the innovations it had already in place in countries like Jordan and Lebanon, to help them cope with the refugee crises in the region.

“In my opinion, this is essential and, given the scale of needs should also include the private sector,” he said.

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Guterres had earlier met with U.S. President Donald Trump and other top government officials, including the National Security Adviser, Gen. Herbert McMaster, at the White House, according to the UN chief’s spokesperson.

Trump and Guterres had constructive discussion on cooperation between the U.S. and the UN and agreed to meet again in the near future.

Trump had threatened to cut funding to the UN and its agencies that the U.S. government has accused of allegedly supporting abortion and anti-Israeli activities.

Guterres also joined the High-level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child as its third and senior Co-Chair, joining Co-Chairs President Michelle Bachelet of Chile and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, alternate Co-Chairs former Presidents Tarja Halonen of Finland and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, as well as other 16 members of the Group.

“In a time of complex development challenges, the investments we make today in women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and wellbeing will help build the peaceful, sustainable and inclusive societies we have promised to achieve through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Peace cannot exist without development and development cannot exist without health and wellbeing, for healthy and empowered women, children and adolescents can bring about the change needed to create a better future for all,” Guterres affirmed.

As a global multi-stakeholder partnership, Every Woman Every Child, launched in 2010, provides a unique platform to unite stakeholders across sectors to deliver on an integrated agenda for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and wellbeing.

The Steering Group Co-Chair President Bachelet of Chile, highlighted that the movement was ready for its next phase under the leadership of Guterres.